Mr. Z snapped a 13-race losing streak with his first stakes victory in the June 20 Ohio Derby, edging third-placer Divining Rod by a short neck in a three-horse photo, and Divining Rod finished two spots better than Mr. Z when third in the Preakness Stakes (G1). They’ll meet for the third straight time in Saturday’s $500,000 Indiana Derby (G2) at Indiana Grand.
The sophomores are facing a fresh face in the 1 1/16-mile event, Island Town, who brings a two-race win streak into his second stakes appearance. A head scorer in a seven-furlong allowance/optional claimer on the Kentucky Derby (G1) undercard, the Neil Howard-trained Island Town upset the odds-on Fame and Power by a half-length when making his stakes bow in the June 13 Matt Winn (G3) at Churchill Downs.
Mr. Z will break from the rail with Joe Bravo, who picked up the mount for D. Wayne Lukas in the Ohio Derby, and the Malibu Moon colt is listed as the 2-1 favorite on the morning line. Divining Rod, a son of leading sire Tapit and winner of the Lexington Stakes (G3) three starts back, is the early 5-2 second choice among eight runners. The dark bay colt drew post 2 and jockey Alex Cintron will take over the reins for Arnold Delacour.
Island Town, a gelded son of Hard Spun, will start from post 6 with regular rider Julien Leparoux.
Tiz Shea D will invade from New York for Bill Mott. Runner-up in the Gotham (G3) earlier this year, the Tiznow colt was last seen recording a runner-up in an allowance on the Belmont Stakes (G1) undercard. The winner of that 1 1/16-mile race, Tommy Macho, came back to finish third to a nice pair in the Dwyer (G3). Jose Lezcano will accompany Tiz Shea D, who has been installed as the 6-1 fourth choice.
Far Right, winner of the Southwest (G3) and Smarty Jones before a non-threatening second to American Pharoah in the Arkansas Derby, will attempt to rebound from a pair of unplaced finishes. The confirmed late runner followed a 15th in the Kentucky Derby with a disappointing sixth in the Ohio Derby. Corey Lanerie will be up on the Ron Moquett trainee. Multiple stakes-placed Bold Conquest, who is listed at 12-1 on the morning line along with Far Right, will attempt to improve upon a fourth in the Matt Winn. Ricardo Santana Jr. rides for Steve Asmussen.
Completing the field are a pair of outsiders, Iowa Derby (G3) fourth-placer Alabaster and Deliverance Day, who will make his stakes debut following an entry-level allowance/optional claiming win at Churchill in which he was in for the tag.
Mr. Z Ohio Derby winner’s circle photo courtesy of Gayane Makaryan/ThistleDown Racino